A smoky, smelly haze blanketed the Cowichan Valley over the B.C. Day long weekend leaving many to wonder where in the region the fire was.
The smoke was a byproduct of the Nanaimo Lakes fire, west of the Cedar/Cassidy area but parts of the Cowichan Valley were also burning — albeit briefly.
On the night of Friday, Aug. 3, Madelaine McLeod was driving along Riverside Road near Cowichan Station when she happened upon a fire and called it in.
Cowichan Bay Volunteer Fire Rescue chief Colin Gaw said roughly 10 firefighters arrived in a pumper and a tanker to douse what he deemed to be roughly a 30-foot-by-20-foot fire.
“It was just a tiny fire and it wasn’t spreading or anything,” Gaw noted.
The potential was there, however, with a large tree canopy overhead.
“The good thing was it was late at night and there wasn’t any wind and the sun wasn’t blaring,” Gaw said.
North Cowichan South End fire chief Rob MacDowell confirmed that while he wasn’t there, members of his department were also called out to a fire over the long weekend at the Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit.
“Our guys were out there,” he said. “All I’m aware of is a car caught on fire and spread to some grass.”
While it was a routine brush fire for the firefighters, neighbours were concerned.
Witness Kathy Mercer reported on Facebook’s public Sahtlam Neighbour to Neighbour group that “it was no small grass fire.”
Nearby resident Shannon Hollinshead said “we stopped what we were doing and waited for news. Always have to be ready to move the ponies. Track is too close to our house and the wind was blowing.”
With evacuation orders issued as a result of the Nanaimo Lakes fires and with another fire burning near Great Central Lake near Port Alberni, CVRD residents are on high alert.
Both fire chiefs, however, said thus far all is well on the Cowichan front.
“It’s been quiet actually,” MacDowell said. “We’ve only had two brush fires. “It’s been good.”
Gaw had a similar report.
“Believe it or not it’s been relatively slow, which has been good,” he noted. “It’s been a good year so far. We’ve been lucky.”